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A fine Kashan Minai pottery bowl, Persia, 12th-13th century

of deep rounded form on a short foot and with a slightly everted rim, decorated in underglaze and overglaze cobalt blue, turquoise, red and shades of tea rose, outlined in black, with a central scene depicting a horse-rider bowing before a female figure standing atop a stylised tower, surrounded by human and animal figures and adorned with curving floral motifs, enclosed by a calligraphic band in kufic script, the rim with a geometric design, the exterior with a framed cursive inscription. 21.6cm. diam. Estimate 35,000—40,000 GBP

NOTE: inscriptions

Round the inner rim in Kufic, repetition of possibly wa al-d[awla] 'And Wealth'

Round the outer rim in cursive, repetition of possibly al-'izz 'Glory'.

The advent of overglaze enamelled decoration in the late-twelfth century saw a transformation of the traditionally limited ceramic colour palette. Where once the range was restricted, potters began to apply enamels in black, red, blues, greens and purples. As a result the artist could produce detailed narrative scenes that are arguably more evocative than those previously seen on Persian ceramics. The minai masters were the self-same potters who worked on lustreware of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and as a result both techniques share certain features both technically, such as their second firing, and in their decoration, such as the moon-faced figural type. The decorative elements of minai ware are thought to originate in textile patterns and book illustrations.

Sotheby's. Arts of the Islamic World. 01 Apr 09. London www.sothebys.com photo courtesy Sotheby's